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(INDIANAPOLIS) – It seems like the election is barely over with — but candidates begin filing for next year’s elections in less than seven weeks.

Republicans hold 60 City Halls to Democrats’ 56, with five indepenedents. But Democrats lead three of Indiana’s four largest cities. State Democrat Chairman John Zody says reelecting incumbents, especially in Indianapolis, is the party’s top priority. But beyond that, he and Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer both say they’ll study election returns and demographics to assess where their best opportunities are.

Hupfer says no city is automatically on or off the priority list. He says the party will make pragmatic decisions about where it’s most likely to get a return on investment. And he says the state party will mainly play a supporting role, with local parties taking the lead.

And both Zody and Hupfer say a big part of the decision-making will depend on what candidates they can persuade to run.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett hasn’t said whether he’ll run for reelection. Neither has South Bend’s Pete Buttigieg, who’s flirting with a run for president. Fort Wayne’s Tom Henry, Carmel’s Jim Brainard, Fishers’ Scott Fadness and Greenwood’s Mark Myers are among those who say they are running again — all but Henry are Republicans.

Confirmed retirements include Republican John Ditslear in Noblesville, and Democrat Ted Ellis in Bluffton, who’s tied with Brainard as Indiana’s second-longest-serving incumbent. Their six terms are second only to Scottsburg’s eight-term mayor Bill Graham.

For Democrats, Zody says the elections are a key steppingstone to statewide and legislative elections in 2020. He says city and town elections are where Democrats will rebuild their bench of candidates for higher office in the future.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)